Today in Latin America
Top Story — A Chilean judge opened the first official investigation into the death of former President Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist leader who died during the 1973 military coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Allende was found dead by military forces that stormed the presidential palace during the coup on September 11, 1973. An autopsy suggested that Allende killed himself, but many of his supporters contend that he was killed by soldiers in the coup.
“What has not been investigated, the courts will investigate … This will finally establish what happened,” said Beatriz Pedrals, a prosecutor in the appellate court in Santiago, according to Aljazeera.
The investigation into Allende’s death is part of an investigation into complaints of human rights abuses during Pinochet’s rule from 1973 to 1990.
The judge who opened the investigation, Mario Carroza, said the work was a “tremendous responsibility”.
A truth commission in Chile in 1991 found that the Pinochet dictatorship killed 3,797 people. Many cases have already been investigated and have lead to human rights trials for about 600 military figures and a small number of civilian collaborators.
Pinochet ruled for 17 years, becoming the longest lasting dictator in South America. He died in December 2006 of a heart attack at the age of 91, with a slew of judicial cases still open against the regime.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexican soldiers seized a large drug catapult on Wednesday that smugglers used to catapult packages of pot across the border to the U.S.
- Some cruise ship companies are canceling stops in Mexico’s Pacific port of Mazatlan due to concerns over crimes against tourists.
- A few hundred protestors gathered on the steps of the Nebraska capital to protest the state’s controversial immigration bill.
- The speaker of Cuba’s parliament appealed Thursday to the “decency” of President Barack Obama’s administration as he made yet another request for the release of five Cuban spies serving long sentences in U.S. prisons.
- Health officials are looking into the cases of four people who became paralyzed in northwestern Haiti while recovering from cholera.
- Health officials say contaminated lobster has given cholera to dozens of guests who attended a lavish wedding in the Dominican Republic.
- Spirit Airlines announced it will begin service from Fort Lauderdale to San Salvador, El Salvador on June 13, pending government approval. The flight will operate three days per week.
- Colombia asked Israel on Thursday to extradite former Israeli army Lt. Col. Yair Klein, who was convicted by a Colombian court and sentenced in absentia to nearly 11 years in prison for training drug lords’ assassins in the late 1980s.
- The bodies of 17 of the 21 miners killed in a gas explosion at a mine in the northeastern town of Sardinata have been recovered, the Colombian Red Cross said Thursday.
- Venezuela’s health minister said Thursday that 37 people have been treated for cholera in the South American nation.
- Former president Alejandro Toledo, the frontrunner in Peru’s presidential race, said on Thursday he would consider decriminalizing drug use if elected, while cracking down on traffickers in the world’s top coca grower.
- A Brazilian man was arrested for allegedly keeping his wife locked in a cellar for at least eight years while he lived upstairs with another woman.
- Wendy’s restaurant plans to open 50 restaurants in Argentina over the next 10 years.
- Uruguayan President José Mujica arrived Thursday in Venezuela to meet with President Hugo Chávez.
Image: Funcadión GAP @ Flickr.